Vic Ketchman called me in his office during my rookie year and he asked me if I knew much about Franco Harris. My answer was no, and from that point forward he would call me occasionally and ask me somewhat like a trivia question regarding different players or running backs that I never knew about. I guess it was his way of breaking the ice, letting me know that he is okay. He had to do his job, but it was okay to talk with him. From that point forward I gained trust and we developed a pretty good relationship.
Vic and Dan Edwards (Senior Vice President, Communications) were with me from the start in 1998. Being young you don't really pay much attention to what is going on around you, but I always got a warm reception from Vic. He never said this is just another young guy coming in that can't grasp what is going on.
Dan would tell me that I was good with the newspaper because of my honesty but you don't have to tell them every single detail. He told me I was going to be fine and I remember those words vividly coming from Dan. Vic was a guy that reiterated Dan's words and basically told me I was going to be a great player but I needed to learn how to handle my business with the media.
Vic and I developed a relationship over time and I started to understand he worked with us. I never really understood why a guy that worked for the team would write this way. It was all honesty and fairness, and once I understood that side of it our relationship started to expand.
I respected him a lot more because I knew he was going to be fair. It's easier to deal with guys like that because you have some guys out there that are just snakes. Vic was never like that. There were never any shots. If your crap stinks, it stinks. If you are doing well, he's going to let it be known. That is why I respect Vic so much. Everything was black and white, there were never any gray areas.
I used to read Ask Vic a lot and it would be funny how the readers would ask the questions and through his sarcasm he would give you one hell of an answer, right to the point. It came from his years of following the game and it would be the correct answer. I found it amusing, not in a bad light, but you have to understand that kind of sarcasm in order to appreciate it. Once I started to read it more and more I just got caught up in it. I would see him in the hallway and tell him I liked a certain answer or I liked how he set something up. It would start at the top of the page with a reader asking a question and then midway through in a funny way he would answer a question someone already asked. For example, if I asked a question about what's going on with Maurice Jones-Drew, he would answer it a certain way. Then if someone else asked that question, he would put it down the page, and answer it in so many words , 'You're a moron.' That kind of sarcasm made me respect him more as a writer and the job he was doing.
We would see each other all the time in the hallway and I always asked him about his day or how his health was doing. He went through a period where his health wasn't great. The other players probably see him as a guy that writes and is locked up in his office, going about his business. For me it was a connection and respect we had and the things he was trying to show me and teach me about the history of the game, and I respect that.
I have a much greater outlook on the media now than when I started with the Jaguars in 1998. I understand the entire process and I'm even thinking about joining that group myself in some aspect one day. Not to say I'm a writer or anything of that nature. As a player a lot of times we don't like the truth. To be able to step outside of being a player, you need to know this is the nature of the game. Not everybody understands it. A lot of guys want to run away from the truth. They want all the glitz and glamour but they don't want the bad side of it. Players need to understand that. It all started for me with Dan because he was the first one who told me I could be great with the media, to not give up on the media and keep trying; be truthful but you don't have to answer everything.
I see Vic as always being a Jaguar. He's making a business move. He's done this his entire life and you don't want to do something you worked so hard at and not be able to reap the rewards at the end of the day. He's doing what he has to do for himself. I know he wants to be in Jacksonville. Why would you want to leave 70-degree average temperatures and go to blizzard-like weather?
The great thing is he's going to the Mecca, the motherland of football. He knows so much about sports and I think to be able to go where it started and be around the tradition that the franchise offers is great. For him to be a football encyclopedia, he's going to the perfect place. He has a lot of history in him and for him to go a place with that much history and tradition is meant to happen. That was destined for him. The people of Green Bay will love him. He will be able to give some insight to the young players on the Packers, the guys that are going to be great for them. Once they get to know Vic they will definitely appreciate him because he's more than just a writer. For me he's a friend and I hate that he's leaving, especially now.
I will honor my word and give him my retirement story. There have been a lot of stalkers about my retirement. I told Vic I want to have the opportunity to just wink at him. I want to be able to give Vic that opportunity. My phone has been blowing up with people saying they want to be the first to report it. I always tell the writers I appreciate them but at the end of the day I told Vic this is his story and I'm going to definitely give it to him when that time comes. We had an agreement and I have to figure out how I'm going to wink at him. I'm so happy for him and I wish him the best at the end of the day.